The world/internet has some disagreement about what “gingerbread” is…is it a house? A runaway man? Or is it a dense cake full of warm spices, preferably topped with large dollops of whipped cream? I vote #3.
I love this gingerbread cake and all its deep, rich molasses-brown color and ginger-spicy flavors. The texture is my favorite part – it’s a bit like pound cake in its density, but kind of rustic, with a heft to the crumb that you don’t find in a more light-and-fluffy cake. You could eat it with a bowl of soup and it would be more than a meal, is what I’m saying.
You mix up melted shortening and sugar, then stir in molasses for a thick, glossy beginning. Then you add the dry ingredients alternately with hot water (yep, just pantry ingredients in this baby!) and the whole thing turns kind of lumpy and the color is a little unattractive:
But don’t worry! Soon your gingerbread will be dark and beautiful again (so much so that your kids might insist it’s become chocolate cake even if they helped make it):
Dense, moist, rich, cozy, please-don’t-forget-the-whipped-cream gingerbread. I love it as a holiday treat, but it’s good all fall and winter if you need to warm up your house with the oven and some spicy smells! (See also: gingersnaps.)
Shortly after I took the gingerbread pictures, my girls and I inhaled the model piece. This took about 2 minutes, which isn’t necessarily good behavior for people who had basically just finished breakfast. Therefore, I recommend that you just go ahead and serve it for breakfast in the first place! Enjoy – and Merry Christmas, friends!Print
- 1 cup shortening, melted
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup molasses
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups hot water
- whipped cream, for serving
- Preheat the oven to 350. Mix the sugar and melted shortening vigorously together with a whisk (or you can use a mixer). Whisk in the molasses.
- In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, and salt, and add to the molasses mixture alternately with the hot water, stirring very gently in between additions with a spoon or spatula. Do not overmix! The batter will be a little lumpy.
- Pour it into a greased 9×13 pan and bake for 35-40 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Serve with generous dollops of whipped cream!
This recipe came to my family from the Pittsburgh Press, many many moons ago.
You can make a half recipe in an 8×8 pan, and it bakes for about the same amount of time!